Champagne time as Mullins saves Irish blushes

It really has been Willie Mullins versus the entire British empire this week.

Again it was a case of the Carlow-based maestro saving our blushes when Champagne Fever, ridden by his son, Patrick, made virtually all of the running to land the Weatherbys’ Champion Bumper — the race which marked the halfway point of the Festival.

On Tuesday Mullins’ Quevega was our only winner and this is rapidly becoming a disastrous festival for the Irish.

It was Mullins’ seventh time winning the Bumper and he said: “I’m delighted, because we have been a little despondent about how some of the horses have been running.

“This horse just gallops and has a huge cruising speed. That’s where we went wrong with him first time out at Leopardstown, we should have made more use of him.

“At Fairyhouse we made all of the running and I said to Patrick to just be up there, so he took it upon himself to make the running.

“He’s a big light-framed horse and I hope will remain like that all of his life. That type is easier to keep sound.”

Mullins’ Pique Sous was just touched off for the runner-up spot and Ruby Walsh’s mount could be heading for another festival.

“Pique Sous has run a cracker, too,” said Mullins. “He cruised down the hill and he is one that will go to Punchestown.”

Champagne Fever’s was a second success in the race for Patrick, having guided Cousin Vinny to victory in 2008.

Said Patrick: “I’ve always compared him to Quel Esprit, in that he has great cruising speed, but not much of a finishing kick.”

Mullins was, however, suspended for two days for exceeding the number of times he was allowed use his whip by one.

Declan Lavery, who rode fourth placed Moscow Mannon, was handed a seven-day for excessive use of the whip.


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